Sports editor emeritus
EAST PROVIDENCE – For a team that hadn’t played a game in 15 days, North Smithfield looked pretty sharp during Saturday’s 41-8 romp over the co-op squad comprised of players from Providence Country Day, Wheeler and Juanita Sanchez.
The Northmen got an 88-yard touchdown run-back of the opening kickoff from Nicholas Cicerone and went on to score all of their points during the first half. Head coach Wes Pennington then played his second team for most of the second half.
“A game like this is good for getting our second unit out on the field in a real high school game. They work hard in practice and showed it today,” Penning admitted.
The first unit looked skilled and well-coached while executing fundamental football against a mistake-prone home team on Homecoming Day at PCD.
The Northmen’s defense forced a punt on PCD’s first possession and the offense went 84 yards in eight plays. An 18-yard pass on third down from quarterback Mike Cicerone to tight end Mark Keenan sustained the drive.
Dylan Narodowy capped the drive with a 48-yard touchdown run on a sweep play that was perfectly sealed off by the right side of the N.S. offensive line. Narodowy got into the secondary and cut back to the middle of the field, shaking off two tacklers en route to the end zone. The senior then booted the first of six straight PATs (after missing his first) for a 13-0 lead just 5:52 into the game.
The contest began to unravel on the next series when Northmen linebacker Matt Turcotte scooped up a lateral in PCD’s backfield and went 33 yards for a gift touchdown.
It would get worse for PCD, which tried to punt on its next possession and saw a high snap go over the punter’s head and back into the end zone. The punter scooped up the ball. Instead of taking a safety, he ran out to the two-yard line before getting tackled. The Northmen then turned the ball over on an interception before PCD returned the favor, fumbling on its seven-yard line. This time, N.S., took advantage, scoring on a five-yard run by Peter Keenan.
Leading 27-0 early in the second quarter, the Northmen continued to play hard.
“The problem in a game like this is sometimes you play down to the level of your opponent,” Pennington admitted. “I’m not saying they’re a bad team …”
The Northmen got interceptions from DeMarie and Narodowy to end PCD’s next two possessions. Narodowy then took a pitch from QB Cicerone in the backfield and lofted a perfect pass down the right sideline that Peter Keenan caught on his fingertips as he raced into the end zone. Now it was 34-0 and starting to get awkward.
The next home team possession ended with another attempted punt. The snap was a little high and Northmen defensive end Mark Keenan contained the punter, who had no choice but to run with the ball. He gained one yard and the ball was back in the Northmen’s hands, 10 yards from paydirt.
Halfback Devon Deragon needed two carries to get into the end zone. Narodowy’s kick made it 41-0 with eight seconds left in the half.
North’s second unit more than held its own in the second half. The offense didn’t try to do anything fancy. Jake Palmer, the smallest player on the field, ran hard on several carries for the Northmen and then ended the game with an interception and 20-yard return as time ran out. It was the fifth interception of the game for the visitors, who also got two fumble recoveries on defense from rangy linebacker Matt Turcotte.
“Jake (Palmer) intercepts passes for us in practice,” Pennington said. “He’s a good player.”
The Northmen, who were idle last week following a one-sided loss to North Providence, are idle again this coming weekend. They next play against Plainfield, Ct. on Nov. 1 in a Friday night home game. They finish their schedule with two home games against Smithfield and Central Falls and then a road game on Thanksgiving morning against Scituate.
At 2-2 in Division IV, the Northmen are ready to make a playoff run.
“I think we have played the two toughest teams in the league (unbeaten EWG and North Providence),” Pennington said. “We’ve got to finish strong to make the playoffs.”